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Plastic Vs. Glass Baby Bottles

By Lori A. Selke ; Updated June 13, 2017

For many years, glass baby bottles were the equivalent of antiques. They had been replaced on the market by bottles made of unbreakable plastics, which were, among other things, cheaper to manufacture and ship. But as of 2010, health concerns about the plastics used to make baby bottles has prompted a resurgence in glass bottle use.

Advantages of Plastic

Plastic is generally unbreakable, which is its main advantage over glass bottles and the reason that plastic baby bottles essentially replaced glass in the marketplace for many years. Plastic is also lighter than glass, making your diaper bag easier to carry and the bottle itself easier for your baby to hold on his own.

Disadvantages of Plastic

The main problem with older plastic baby bottles is that some of them are made with polycarbonate plastic -- a hard, shatterproof plastic, also known as ”number seven plastic” because of the identifying number sometimes found on the bottom of the bottle. Polycarbonate plastic is now known to leach a compound called bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical that mimics estrogen in the body and thus may cause developmental hormonal disruptions in young children. Newer baby bottles are made from BPA-free plastics, such as polypropelyne and are labeled as such.

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Advantages of Glass

By nature, glass is free of BPA -- you don’t have to worry about different types of plastic and whether or not they’re safe. Glass is also easy to clean, and glass bottles can be easily sterilized in boiling water. All glass baby bottles sold in 2010 are made of tempered glass, which is harder to break than regular glass and tends to shatter into pieces that aren’t as sharp. Glass bottles last longer and can also be recycled more readily than plastic baby bottles.

Disadvantages of Glass

The primary disadvantage of glass bottles is that they can and do break, and the shards can injure your baby. Glass baby bottles, even tempered ones, can also chip and leave a sharp cutting edge. Glass is also heavier than plastic, making baby bottles more prone to be dropped and able to cause more damage when thrown. Many contemporary glass baby bottle manufacturers compensate for these disadvantages by encasing their products in a silicone sleeve that protects the glass from impact; however, these sleeves are not a guarantee against breakage. Glass bottles are also more expensive than plastic bottles.

Other Options

A few manufacturers offer stainless steel baby bottles. Stainless steel is shatterproof and recyclable. It does not leach chemical compounds into your baby’s milk, water, juice or formula. It is also easy to clean. Stainless steel baby bottles are, however, both heavy and expensive. Make sure that the bottle manufacturer specifies that their product is BPA free, as there have been problems concerning leaching from the plastic liners of stainless steel water bottles made for adults.

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